This is a slim book to be sure, but for a 96-page softcover, it’s possibly one of the most useful supplements for a starting Troupe or a Storyguide wanting to get their players moving in a out of the laboratory and off in a new direction. There’s a nicely balanced review by Erik Tyrrell over on the Atlas Forums here that I don’t have a lot to add to yet so I’ll let it stand in place of a proper review from me.
From a line writer’s perspective, I really wish I’d been involved in this one.
One of the constraints I find most difficult is the need to write a new supplement so that it can be mainly played using only the supplement and the ArM5 corebook alone. I find this very frustrating as I suspect it’s mainly a marketing based decision and there’s so much interesting material now to cross-reference, twist around and play with that has to be dropped or altered significantly (we rarely have word-space to reproduce significant amounts of mechanics unfortunately). Then again, it’s pretty clear that not everyone can afford all the supplements and that any new supplement that requires several other supplements to actually be useful in a game is bound for commercial failure.
A difficult balance to be sure.
I recall I didn’t have the time to write anything when this Open Call was announced and wasn’t really confident enough to pitch something solo. I also wasn’t sure what exactly to pitch but in retrospect, I really should have pitched something to lead into The Cradle and the Crescent as even when we finished it, I was still unsatisfied that we hadn’t put enough reasons to get European magi to travel into the Mythic Middle East. Sure, Marko and I later came up with 3 MacGuffins for our Tales of Power chapter, “The City of Brass”, one of which, “Little Lost Brass Bottle”, could be used with some adaption I’m sure, but the point for me is I should have thought of this concept earlier in the drafting process as a primary need.
Although it’s a bit after the fact now, I might just have to go back and write a “Hook-style chapter” for Cradle and the Crescent (or at least notes on how to adapt “Little Lost Brass Bottle” to lead to the further Mythic Middle East instead of just Egypt) – there’s an idea I had about the Book of 1001 Nights that I never had a chance to realise fully that might just work and several posters on the Atlas Forums have requested more jinn related material of late…